Skip to content Skip to main menu Skip to utility menu


The NSPCC defines ‘sexting’ as the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet.

Useful advice on all aspects of this issue can be found in the updated:

Sexting in schools and colleges: responding to incidents and safeguarding young people, UK Centre for Child Internet Safety, Aug 2016

The above advice covers:

  • Responding to disclosures
  • Handling devices and imagery
  • Risk assessing situations
  • Involving other agencies, including escalation to the police and children’s social care
  • Recording incidents
  • Involving parents
  • Preventative education

The advice refers throughout to ‘Youth produced sexual imagery’. The rationale for this as the most accurate description of the practice is because:

  • ‘Youth produced’ includes young people sharing images that they, or another young person, have created of themselves.
  • ‘Sexual’ is clearer than ‘indecent.’ A judgment of whether something is ‘decent’ is both a value judgment and dependent on context.
  • ‘Imagery’ covers both still photos and moving videos (and this is what is meant by reference to imagery throughout the document).

The importance of a measured and proportionate approach to incidents of ‘sexting’ is emphasised in the advice;

Whilst young people creating and sharing sexual imagery can be very risky, it is often the result of young people’s natural curiosity about sex and their exploration of relationships. Often, young people need education, support or safeguarding, not criminalisation.

Key issues:

Potential School Action

  • All staff should be aware of the school’s on-safety policy and understand the risks associated with sharing images online. Responses should be in accordance with the school’s policy and the statutory safeguarding duties of school staff as directed in keeping Children Safe in Education, DfE Sept 2016. Concerns should be discussed with the school’s designated safeguarding lead (DSL).
  • Childnet has advice on handling disclosures and reporting incidents:

Schools may wish to provide parents/carers with information about online safety including understanding the law in relation to sharing images, how to talk to their children about keeping safe online, how to set up parental controls and where to access support. Workshops aimed at parents addressing how to keep their children safe may be helpful. Many schools share this information effectively on their school websites.

Curriculum (Universal provision through planned PSHE and Computing)

The PSHE Association’s ‘Frequently asked questions on pornography and sharing of sexual images in PSHE education’ states that:

‘Pupils should learn that it is both a gross violation and a very serious offence to take or share sexual images of another person without their consent. Depending on the circumstances, sharing such images can be an offence under various different pieces of legislation, including the Sexual Offences Act (2003), Malicious Communications Act (1988), Obscene Publications Act (1959) and Protection of Children Act (1978). Sharing sexual images without consent is a form of sexual assault – and if the victim is under 18 it could also be classed as sharing images of child sexual abuse, which could lead to the perpetrator being subject to the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (commonly referred to as the Sex Offender Register).

Pupils should also learn that it is illegal to produce, possess or distribute an indecent image of a person under the age of 18 – even if it is a picture of themselves. These laws have been created to protect children and young people. It is therefore unlikely that the police would prosecute a young person for taking or sharing pictures of themselves, unless they were concerned that the images were being used to harass or coerce, or shared with intent to harm.’ (PSHE Association)

The full paper can be downloaded at:

Guidance on teaching about consent in PSHE PSHE Association

General advice for schools on teaching about consent accompanied by eight lesson plans. Key stages 3 and 4

Childnet resources include ‘Picture This’ – a drama based activity for young people about sexting, with accompanying script and lesson plans.

‘Crossing the Line’ – Childnet International

A practical PSHE Toolkit for educators containing films, lesson plans and activities. The film about sexting and peer pressure, ‘Just send it’, is rated 12 by the BBFC.


*Some activities for KS2

‘So you got naked online’ is a resource provided by South West Grid for Learning: (main booklet) and (flyer).

This is a resource for children, young people and parents that offers advice and explores strategies to support the issues resulting from sexting incidents.

‘Consequences’ is a film from CEOP aimed at 11-16 year olds. It focuses on the consequences of not keeping social networking profiles private. It addresses social media use, blackmail and the law. The film, lesson plans and a presentation are available upon registering at:

The film is also available at

‘Exposed’ is a ten minute drama that has been designed for 14 to 18 year olds. ‘Exposed’ deals with the subjects of sexting and cyberbullying, issues that teenagers commonly face. The film can be accessed by registering on the thinkuknow site, as detailed above, or at:

‘First to a million’ is another CEOP resource aimed at young people aged 14 plus. “Ever posted something you regret? Find out how to get help when things go too far. You choose what happens in this interactive film!” The film can be accessed on the thinkuknow site or at:

Disrespect NoBody Discussion guide Home Office – PSHE Association

A teaching resource which supports the Government’s Disrespect NoBody campaign aimed at preventing abuse in teenage relationships. 13+

Tagged Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (Australia)

Australian film resource with lesson plans and video interviews with key characters. 14+

Lockers Webwise – the Irish Safer Internet Centre

An animation and six lesson plans including lessons on peer pressure, victim blaming and the influence of the media. 13+

Digital Awareness UK and the Girl’s Day School Trust have developed resources to help teachers develop their pupils’ understanding of online safety – both physical safety and emotional wellbeing . Live My Digital is a series of 6 films for parents and 6 films for students on the following topics: Cyberbullying; The digital footprint; Identity and self-esteem; Relationships and grooming; Security and privacy; and Sexting.

Infant and primary schools

Effective relationships and sex education within PSHE can help pupils keep themselves safe from harm through building their confidence to ask for help, learning that their body belongs to them and giving them the language to describe private parts of their body. The Sex Education Forum and PSHE Association have advice and guidance on effective teaching and learning in relationships and sex education and PSHE.

The Digiduck collection has been created to help parents and teachers educate children aged 3 – 7 about how to be a good friend online. ‘Digiduck’s Big Decision’ addresses decisions about sharing unkind photos. The story book is available to read online at

‘I saw Alex’s Willy’ NSPCC

Film and lesson plans aimed at younger children, key stages 1-2, which cover the importance of not sharing naked images. 5-11

Involving other agencies and signposting

Childnet International
Resources, links and support to ensure children and young people use the internet safely.

A website dedicated to preventing child exploitation online from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre. The site provides advice for different audiences with sections for children & young people; parents/carers and teachers/trainers. Registration provides access to a range of resources for 4 – 18 year olds.

Children and young people can access ChildLine confidentially in a range of ways including by calling 0800 1111.

Advice and support for Parents

The NSPCC clip, ‘I saw your willy’ is aimed at parents, helping them to keep their children safe online.

The NSPCC PANTS campaign has been designed to help parents to talk simply with their children to protect them from sexual abuse. A key message in the ‘Underwear Rule’ is that body parts covered by underwear are private.

A series of four short films about nude ‘selfies’ have been produced by Thinkuknow

Internet safety leaflets for foster carers and adoptive parents are available from Childnet:

Lucy Faithfull/Parent’s Protect leaflets for parents:

If parents or carers are concerned that their child is being contacted by adults as a result of having sharing sexual imagery they should report to NCA-CEOP at

ChildLine and the Internet Watch Foundation have partnered to help children get sexual or naked images removed from the internet. Young person can get their photo removed by talking to a ChildLine counsellor. More information is available at

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5000, by emailing , or by texting 88858. They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

Resources parents could highlight to their children

ChildLine have created Zip-It, an app that provides witty comebacks in order to help young person say no to requests for naked images-

There is information on the ChildLine website for young people about sexting:

The Safer Internet Centre has produced resources called ‘So You Got Naked Online’ which help young people to handle incidents of sexting-

Digital Awareness UK and the Girl’s Day School Trust have developed resources to help teachers develop their pupils’ understanding of online safety – both physical safety and emotional wellbeing . Live My Digital is a series of 6 films for parents and 6 films for students on the following topics: Cyberbullying; The digital footprint; Identity and self-esteem; Relationships and grooming; Security and privacy; and Sexting.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.